Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Let's Focus on Our Particular Midwest Front of the War on Women

I need help getting back into this blog. I also need practice waking up early in the morning and thinking about something seriously. No, I mean it, serious topics, because a consequence of being so active on Facebook and Twitter is you start to lose the sense which allows you to grasp how heavy an event is. Sure, we're bombarded with requests for fundraisers and petitions and news links, but the trending news story will be replaced by another one in an hour, and through the course of my online day, I might read like 15 political stories or environmental pleas. It leads to righteous anger sure, but a sort of sustained righteous anger high, a buzz, an addiction to finding the newest thing to be angry about. So I'm going to try writing about one news story a day here. I'm not educated really about any of these things, and most of these ramblings will seem undeveloped, childish, certainly redundant to what every else on your feed has already said about it in 140 characters. Let's just remember this is a blog, okay? A humble little local blog. Nothing to see here. 

First up, Gov. Walker repealed Wisconsin's 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act. Almost 2 WEEKS AGO. And I don't know, maybe the rest of the country already knew about it when this Daily Beast article was published April 7th, but I consider myself plugged in sort of, I'm at least a median, and I didn't hear about it till the Daily Show this week. Maybe I need smarter facebook friends.*

The goal of that act was to allow employees to take their discrimination cases through state courts instead of federal, which is faster and cheaper. Employers and supporters of repealing the act claimed that businesses were suddenly facing way more claims. That's a fact up for dispute, one of the soundbites going around is that in the 2 years the Act has been Active, not a single equal pay suit has been filed, because the law is strict. I'm not going to look up whether or not that's true, because I don't think it matters. If employers are facing a heavier burden of suits, than maybe they should start paying everyone equally. Oh! Cry the Wearied Employers, Oh! We have so many false wage discrimination claims! Everyone we fire tries to get us! Look, not my problem if you can't comport yourself fairly and directly with the people who work for you. I'm sure there are a lot of false accusations. I'm equally sure that there are a lot of well founded ones. 2009, Wisconsin was ranked 36th in the country for pay parity. And now...

 "the law’s supporters believe it has been effective in spurring businesses to pay women more fairly. Thus by 2010, the state had climbed to 24th in the national gender-parity rankings, with women making 78 percent as much as men, compared to 77 percent nationally. “Since the law was put into place, employers actually took notice and were very conscious of the fact that they had to follow this law or they were at risk of a lawsuit,” Sinicki argues."'

So Wisconsin, I would like to hereby award you The Worst Governor Award. And that should mean something because I live in a state where this is happening: Ohio House Republicans Move to Defund Planned Parenthood.  And I live next to a state where every election becomes a shit storm of fraudulent election practices, which is just ramping up for the season. 

Oh, but wait! You also win Worst Senator of the Week! Here's the infamous quote being spread around about the repeal of the law by the repeal's main supporter , Republican Senator Glenn Grothman. 

 "“Take a hypothetical husband and wife who are both lawyers,” he says. “But the husband is working 50 or 60 hours a week, going all out, making 200 grand a year. The woman takes time off, raises kids, is not go go go. Now they’re 50 years old. The husband is making 200 grand a year, the woman is making 40 grand a year. It wasn’t discrimination. There was a different sense of urgency in each person.” 

He continues, “What you’ve got to look at, and Ann Coulter has looked at this, is you have to break it down by married and unmarried. Once you break it down by married and unmarried, the differential disappears.” 

... When I ran the numbers by him, he replied, “The American Association of University Women is a pretty liberal group.” Nor, he argued, does its conclusion take into account other factors, like “goals in life. You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”'

That guy does not actually believe that.  There is absolutely no way he believes any word coming out of his own mouth. My knee jerk reaction was to make some excuse for his ignorance, or make fun of it, but it's time I stop giving people the stupidity excuse, and start recognizing actual cruelty and greed. 

My dad has lately taken to very seriously and sternly telling my sister and I that he really wants us to get dual citizenship in another country. I remember the first time he said it, we were all sitting around the living room, and I thought he was just being pithy. My dad's never been one to overreact to a cultural or political situation. But no, he means it. He fears for our economic and reproductive rights. And fathers all over the country should be getting Handmaids Tale chills up and down their spines. Also mothers, also anyone who has ever dated a girl or is a girl. Also everyone who can be considered a minority, because that Equal Pay Law didn't just protect vaginas, it was for everyone. This new batch of Republican bullshit, which we've up to now been tempted to write off as a religious agenda, is in fact an attempt for the party of the Rich White Male to regain some of it's Valhalla Sheen from earlier in the LAST CENTURY. I know certain educated folks have been trying to warn the general population of this for a while, that the Religious Right is just a sensationalistic mask to distract us from the actual chipping away of progressive accomplishments over the last fifty years, but now we have no excuse to write this off. Governor Walker has at least been instrumental in making it violently clear that the Right's target is not just your uterus, but everyone else's jobs and health benefits too. 

This is not a war about moral issues, it's an attack by Corporate Money, and regardless of your religious leanings, every working person in the Rustbelt should be paying attention. Because this is a region that is heavily invested in unions and employer regulation. Manufacturing has been trying to get one over on it's Midwest workers for over a century, and right now we feel so desperate and cash strapped and beat upon, that we're letting them win. Yes, we need jobs. Yes, state budgets need help. But we need representatives that are going to try and find solutions without marginalizing members of society. That's not a want, that's a need. In case you haven't noticed, if you add up everyone considered a "minority", we're the majority. 99%, blah blah blah, but true. The way we are going to rebuild the Midwest is not by making it an unhealthy, unsafe, unappealing place for new people to want to come and work and live. You should want employers to have to pay women and EVERYONE equally, because that's more of their profit that's being spent in your communities. You should want women to get health care from Planned Parenthood, because that's less of a burden on your county health systems, and in the end, on the welfare and social assistance programs too. Our cities need to focus on attracting new people and immigrants, because there's nothing healthier for a community than new blood and new ideas and ambition. If I'm an educated immigrant, with a career, looking to move, I'm not looking towards places that are systematically rolling back the rights of the citizenry. There's probably not a lot of dads over in Europe saying to their daughters "make sure you move to a place where it's hard to get health care and they discriminate against women in the workplace."

*not true. I have very smart facebook friends. At least 60% of them don't have kids.  


  1. I'm definitely getting dual citizenship. I feel at this point it's just practical. Primarily it will make going back and forth easier for us at some point, for family etc. But also, yes, I think it just makes sense to have this option.

    I don't want to have to think this away about the United States but I'm not sure I have a choice.



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